Biblical Community

SERMON LEFTOVERS 2.13.17

 What are we building?                    

 

1 Corinthians 3:10-23

Throughout chapters 1-3, Paul is leading the church to reassess how they are thinking about wisdom and applying it

 

Christ is the only lasting foundation (v11)

1.  There is no other Creator – who invented life and sustains it

‚2.  There is other Savior:  he takes our guilt – by paying full price for it

ƒ3.  There is other Lord:  no one else rules over eternity, he alone judges time

 

Paul wants us to consider how we build on Christ (v10)

The context of what is being built is the Church

But who is doing the work, is communal.

These verses are more than how we live as individuals, v16 affirms that vs 10-15 is speaking about the Church, not just individuals

What are the implications of this word picture?

(1)  Our spiritual health is part of the health of our church  

(2)  We all have responsibility for the health of our church (12:12-25)

(3)  We can be spiritual craftsmen, or we can be poor builders

Paul’s focus is not our abilities, but the materials we use, which is the wisdom we use

Paul describes reward and loss so we will take this matter seriously (vs 14-15)

The “loss” is not wrath or punishment – in Christ we are justified fully and forever

Our work is judged according to how it followed God’s Word

Loss is to stand before Christ knowing we wasted and misused life in half-heartedness

What is the “reward”?  Bible doesn’t teach class distinction in heaven

In Matthew 25:21, the master tells faithful ones, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’

Our motivation is that we love Christ, and want to honor him

As Christians, we need clarity on reward, loss, priorities – and wisdom

If none of this stirs your heart at all, you need to ask, Does God have your heart?

Paul takes his warnings a step further (vs 16-17)

Beware of tearing down the church

Divisiveness is Paul’s immediate concern (we can disagree without disharmony)

The world’s way:  hold offenses, justify our attitudes, and spread them

The biblical responses:  forgive them, pray for them, thank God for them, love and bless them

 

Paul brings a couple of conclusions

1.  Be willing to live foolishly in the eyes of the world (vs 18-20)

v18 asks, are you willing to “become a fool”?  This means to live foolishly in the worlds eyes, because their sense of wisdom is upside down

2.  Be content in a lifestyle of humility (vs 21-23)

v21 and 23 tells us that “All things are ours”. This is because everything is in God’s hands and in Christ, we are ‘heirs’ to the riches of God’s grace

We don’t need to live trying to get ahead – in Christ, we are!

We don’t need to be anxious about being accepted – in Christ, we are!

No one who lives wholeheartedly for God is a fool

WHAT DO PASTORS LOVE TO HEAR?

 

When I saw this article, “10 Things Pastors Would Love to Hear from Their Church Members”, I was obviously interested in seeing what was on the list and comparing it with my own experience.

#1 on the article’s list is undoubtedly first on my list as well (you have to read the list to discover what that is).

#10 “I will never compare you to a previous pastor” has never been an issue for me. The pastor who preceded me had an unusually powerful ministry. I don’t mind that his ministry “shoes” are bigger than mine. Plus I love him too much to worry about comparisons.

#7 “I will make certain your family has an adequate income.” Like everyone else, I could always use more money, but God and our church have always cared for my family.

#6 “I see my role as one who will confront the perpetual critics in the church.” I must admit, that is a nice one.

And #9 is pretty sweet as well.

#8 “I am available to babysit your kids.” This was helpful at one time, but now I have grandkids and you’re not taking any babysitting opportunities away from me!

Items that belong on the list:

“Let me tell you how God is using me in someone’s life”

“What are some helpful books to read?”

“This is how I have been growing lately in my love for God”

“I love my church”

“This is why I am thankful for the people of our church”

“I am interested in going on a mission trip”

“Let’s get some coffee”

“This pie I baked for you is still warm”

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 8.08.16

Jesus’ friends love  

    

John 15:12-17

In Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, he now returns to emphasize and dig into truths he has already told them. This repetition lets us know these are foundational truths for Christ followers

 

Once again, Jesus connects love and obedience

Love among believers is required (vs 12, 17)

Morality and church involvement are necessary – but love is our beacon to the world (John 13:35)

Love best reveals (1) God’s transforming power and (2) the gospel’s agenda

But what does love for one another look like?  1 Corinthians 13:7-8

     “Bears all things” – love shows grace and absorbs people’s shortcomings

     “Believes all things” – love does not draw negative conclusions and assign bad motives to others

     “Hopes all things” – love obligates us to think the best we can of others

     “Endures all things” – love’s agenda for people doesn’t change with how they treat us

Jesus’ redemptive work is our example for how to obey and love (v13)

In the cross we see Jesus’ greatest example of love – sacrifice – humility – commitment

Other believers can be examples, but Jesus is our standard

In chapter 1 Jesus is the ‘Word made flesh’

     Jesus is God’s ultimate expression of himself,

     Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s grand purpose

     Jesus is the manifestation of godliness

     ~ For all these reasons we are to be obsessed with knowing and imitating Jesus

An implied theme of this discourse is that Jesus’ followers will obey him (v14)

Christ has not just set a path before us, he has walked it

God knows our weakness, so don’t beat yourself up with failures, repent if needed and go forward (Psalm 103:13-14)

But God rejects an unwilling heart, so make sure you do repent of sin in every form (Revelation 3:14-16

 

Our obedience is not as slaves (vs 14-15)

Slaves are just given tasks, while God has opened his plans to us, so we can we share in them

1.  We don’t want to abuse the role of “friend” and so neglect having a servant’s heart

         We need to take the phrase ‘I no longer call you servants’ in context

         We are still to view ourselves as servants, for that is how Jesus viewed himself on earth

2.  We don’t want to minimize our relationship with God as “friend”, and fail to embrace it

Being Jesus’ friend is clearly a relational title, but it’s much more; we have been invited into the work that is dearest to his heart

We gain insight by looking at Abraham and Moses, who are the only people previously called “friends” of God

     Both of them experienced unusual interaction with God

     Both of them were given unusual access to God

These two themes are imbedded is what Jesus communicates in v15

We are servants, because we serve Jesus’ kingdom, instead of our own

But we are also beloved friends and heirs of that kingdom

 

Jesus takes our participation further (v16)

We are “chosen” and “appointed” to fruitfully participate in gospel work

1.  This is meant to encourage us, because Christ has initiated our calling (knowing all our junk)

We tend to fall into the false mindset that we initiate plans and then convince God to help

2.  This is meant to make us serious, because we have been given responsibilities

We need to ask ourselves, what we think life is for!

     Is it to build a happy life and if we are open to it, God can have some space

    Or, that life is from and for God!  True joy comes through fulfilling his roles for us

Jesus continues the theme of our being fruitful that he began vs 1-11

God wants you to be fruitful!  Our weaknesses have no impact on this intention

A fruitful life is his purpose, any voice that says otherwise is lying

This doesn’t rest on our smarts or strength. Remember the “Helper” was sent to dwell in us

Our role in the process is to love God – obey him – abide in him – love one another

For the fourth time in the Farewell Discourse, in v16 Jesus tells them to “ask in my name”

“Friends” of God, let’s take him at his word

SERMON LEFTOVERS 6.20.16

Jesus understands trouble and betrayal   

 

John 13:21-30

Jesus’ Farewell Discourse comes from the perspective of culmination. Yet, there is also the heartache of betrayal throughout this chapter

There is Anguish In Jesus’ Soul

The burden in Jesus has been growing

Jesus mentions it for the first time in John 6:70-71

Now in chapter 13, it is woven throughout the narrative (vs 2, 10-11, 18)

Jesus turmoil over Judas reaches its culmination in v21

Jesus not only carries the burden of his coming crucifixion, now betrayal is added

Jesus had chosen Judas to be one of the 12 who shared life, ministry and miracles with him

What this friend does is repeatedly described as “betrayal” (Mt 26:14-16)

Jesus declares Judas’ act as a fulfillment of Psalm 41:9

 

Jesus Draws In His Disciples

Jesus wants to strengthen his disciples against the coming blow (v19)

Jesus wants them to know that he is sovereign even over this betrayal

God is good and faithful, even in the difficult, unexplainable and painful

Jesus wants to share his own troubled heart with them (v21)

They cannot do anything, but Jesus wants to share his burden

The disciples fall into awkward silence (v22) ‘looking at one another’

They are weighing their own hearts and each others

Peter wants to find out who is the one and asks the disciple next to Jesus

Jesus identifies his betrayer, but the disciples don’t hear or grasp the significance of it

 

Jesus Engages Judas

Jesus reaches out to Judas, he doesn’t send him away, until after the foot washing and the meal

The foot washing allowed Judas to experience Jesus’ care and humility once more

In the last moment, Jesus fed Judas a ‘morsel’, which culturally was a way to honor a guest

In taking Jesus’ love without repentance, Judas has turned himself over to his sin

Judas had been following a path of sin for some time (Jn 12:3-6)

Why did Jesus pick Judas?

John 6:64 tells us Jesus knew from the beginning who would betray him

v18 tells us this was so prophecy would be fulfilled

Judas wasn’t forced by God to betray Jesus, God used a betrayer

 

Let’s Consider Some Applications

1.  About Burdens

Life is hard at times for everyone, because our world is in rebellion against God

Some Christians mistakenly think ‘If I follow God well enough, he will take my problems away’

No one lived better than Jesus, and he experienced many sorrows

The Bible tells us suffering and struggle will come

Jesus knows what it means to have a ‘troubled’ heart

We are not meant to carry these burdens alone, we are given the church to bear them with us

When everything falls apart, God has not

2.  About Sin

Nothing is more dangerous, deceiving or corrupting than sin

We don’t know what took place in Judas’ mind, but we know the results

v30 ends with what seems obvious “and it was night”; this was a spiritual statement as much as the time of day

3.  About Satan

He is a real person, with motivations and actions that all hate God

We live in the midst of spiritual warfare: “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6)

If our enemy is spiritual, then our daily preparation must be spiritual

Can Satan enter a believer? 

He would have to be able to overcome the Holy Spirit – and that will never happen

We should take Satan seriously – but God is the only one we need to fear

4.  About Where Your Life Is

Who is Jesus to you?

How does your life demonstrate that he is your Lord?

If you are thinking, “I will respond to God sometime in the future”, pushing Jesus off is how we are turned over to our sin

SERMON LEFTOVERS 5.16.16

GOSPEL FELLOWSHIP

by Eric Huber

During World War II Americans were galvanized around the mission to defeat the evil of that time. Every citizen had a shared part in the common goal, that common goal united them together.

If that is true of what is called the greatest generation, how much more true should it be for those united to Christ? 

We have been united to Christ.  We are part of Him and so part of one another.  And we have a common purpose in Him.  Jesus told us in Matt 28 to “go and make disciples of all the nations.”  That Great Commission was not just for the original apostles.  If is for the local church.  It is to be our gospel partnership, a shared responsibility given to us by Jesus Himself.

In Philippians 4, Paul rejoices that the church at Philippi is willing to partner with him.  He is thankful, not so much for their gift, but their willingness to be part of what God.  From the beginning they have shared in Paul’s ministry. Paul says in Phil 1:3-5, I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

The word for partnership, Paul uses again in Phil 2:1 where he speaks about participation or fellowship in the Spirit.  And again in Phil 3:10, Paul says he wants to share in or have fellowship in Christ’s sufferings.  This seems to be something deeper than just a partnership. The fellowship the Philippians have with Paul is a fruit of their fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. 

As Christians, we have union with Christ.  And in Him we are brought into the fellowship that He has with the Father and the Spirit. We are one with Christ as Christ is one with the Father.  And so in Him, we are part of each other.  And when we live out that unity, we show the world that the Gospel is true (Jn 17:20-23).

So what are some ways that we can live out our gospel fellowship?  The most basic way is that we can be active members of a local church. Our fellowship with the Triune God is a corporate identity.  The NT assumes a life of committed interdependent relationships in some specific church. When we commit to a local church, we give tangible expression to our fellowship in the gospel. Membership says I am responsible to and for these specific people.

The local church is the place where we use our gifts to serve and edify one another. To each believer is given some spiritual gift for the common good (1 Cor 12:7). Paul writes this to the local church and says gifts are given for the collective benefit of members of the church. 

Now, we can use are gifts in other good ways, but they are given to us first and foremost to edify other believers in our local body.  We each have a part to play in our church, and so we should seek to play our part well.

We give expression to gospel fellowship as our church partners with those outside our local church for gospel mission. To make disciples is bigger than a single local church.  Churches partner with other churches who share their understanding of the gospel and the church for the purpose of gospel ministry – in order to see pastors developed and churches planted.  We all cannot go, but we can all give, pray and help in any way that we can.

We express fellowship in the Gospel as we go to proclaim the gospel in our part of the world. 

We live Christ-centered lives. 

We pray for our friends and neighbors, seeking opportunities to speak gospel truth. 

We show hospitality. 

We invite people to church or our small group so that they can experience the joy of biblical community and come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Finally, we give expression to gospel fellowship by being regularly discipled our self.  We seek to grow in our faith and lead by our example. 

We come to church as an enthusiastic worshiper who wants to hear and apply God’s word. 

We commit ourselves to our church’s process of discipleship. 

We give ourselves to God’s Word and prayer. 

As we do, our hearts grow to love God and neighbor more, and we grow in our understand of the fellowship we share in Christ.

 

HAVE YOU TRIED SHARED EVANGELISM?

I am reading through “Compelling Community” by Mark Dever for the third time (this time it’s with the pastors). Near the end of the book I was struck afresh by his reflections on the corporate witness of the local church.

Dever points out that fruitful evangelism should not be limited to church events or individual witnessing. He offers a third category of “community witness”. When a church practices vibrant biblical community, this is a very compelling witness of gospel truths.

Here are some of the ways Dever suggests we can put Community Witness into practice:

Talk about life at church

We easily talk about what is going on in our life during conversations with friends and acquaintances. Try salting those conversations with what is taking place in our church life. Let people hear about biblical community in action. It should be obvious that sharing complaints about church would be counter-productive to the gospel.

Mix our circles of hospitality

When you have neighborhood or family events, invite church friends. And when you have a gathering with church friends, invite unbelievers you know. When we are in a small group, we have a natural pool of people to include in these social events that are common to life. Over time they will build relationships with our family and friends.

Invite church friends to join you in evangelism

Include a church friend in a spiritual conversation you are having with someone at a coffee shop, or you can invite a believing friend, and an unbelieving friend to read the bible together with you once a week.

Connect church life to your neighborhood

Find ways to impact people in the neighborhood around your church or around your small group. Get together with fellow believers and discuss how you can share life within that community.

DO WE HAVE EYES FOR THE LONELY IN OUR CHURCH?

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Give Us Eyes for the Lonely

This is the great title for this excellent article that points us to a wonderful purpose.

Every time we show up for church, there are people who need our care, but we probably don’t notice them. Week by week they suffer alone and we miss out on opportunities to be used by God in their lives.

People who feel as if they have little or no value, attend our services

People who are lonely, walk by us trying to look as if they are fine

People who have been mistreated and cast to the fringe of acceptability, sit near us

Do we have eyes to see the lonely and isolated? Do we have time for them? Are we even trying to notice them?

These are questions that must be asked not simply on the church wide level; we must ask ourselves these questions personally. Even more we need to cultivate our wanting to step into the answer.

Reaching out to people who are lonely will involve our time. And caring for people who feel discarded, can be trying. But more importantly and more wonderfully, this is a meaningful way to live. This part of how we fulfill our call as gospel people. And this will enable us to grow into a church which more fully displays the beauty Christ-likeness.

Please give thoughtful attention to this article by Reggie Osborne on the desiringGod website

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.18.16

‘Reconciliation is not Optional’       

 

A major theme in Philippians is unity with one another and in mission (1:27). In chapter 4 Paul addresses two leading women in the church whose conflict threatened both of these

Philippians 4:1-3

 

We Don’t Know the Reason for Their Conflict

But it was serious: it is a rare step for Paul to correct people in a church by name

And it was affecting the whole church: this correction is addressed in a letter to the whole church

When members of ‘the body’ are in disharmony, the church will be weakened

The women were living in contradiction to the heart of the entire letter

1:27 tells us to live worthy of the gospel – but they were not

2:4 says don’t look out merely to your own interests – but they were

 

Look How Paul Approaches Reconciliation

1.  Paul approaches them with an abundance of grace (v1)

This is how God approached us in order to reconcile us to himself and it continues to be how he deals with us

We are acting hypocritically when we brush graciousness aside

The reality of the sin in these women didn’t override the reality of how Paul loved them; and the reality that Paul loved them didn’t override the need to confront their sin

Our approach to reconciliation doesn’t imitate Christ, if it is not filled with grace

2.  Paul addresses the women equally and earnestly (v2)

Paul didn’t pick sides, or even deal with the outward issue

The rightness of one or other was secondary to the wrongness of their conflict

Each had a heart condition that needed be addressed – they were holding on to an offense

Each had an attitude to change – they thought the other was unworthy of fellowship (grace)

Each had actions to take – to forgive completely and forever

Biblical reconciliation requires careful biblical self-examination

3.  Paul wants them to see their “situation” in its true context (v3)

This was a gospel issue – they were gospel recipients (“names in the book of life”)

Mission of church issue – gospel workers (“labored side by side in the gospel”)

All who are ‘in Christ’ are gospel people; reconciliation is now in our DNA (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)                  

The world needs us  not to allow anything to dilute “the ministry reconciliation”

The glory of Christ’s work in the gospel deserves that we live out “the message of reconciliation”

We are inconsistent with the gospel, if our heart is not reconciled

 

Paul Gives 3 Commands For Reconciliation

1.  Stand firm in the Lord (v1)

This is the same command he gave in 1:27 to “live worthy of Christ”

If they are to respond correctly, it will be because they are rooted “in the Lord”

They have to lay aside their offense, and take up Christ

They need to refocus how they see each other, and use “the Lord’s” perspective

If we don’t approach each other “in the Lord”, instead of “standing firm”, we are drifting

 2.  Agree in the Lord (v2)

This doesn’t mean we have to agree with the other person

It means we agree that what we share “in the Lord” should keep us in fellowship

We remember that we share the same standards of love and humility (2:1-4)

We recognize that we will share the same eternity that will be completely free of disharmony

3.  Help them to agree (v3)

The verb “help” indicates strong action. It is elsewhere translated ‘seize’ and ‘grasp’

Whether the “true companion” refers to a person or the church community, it lets us know that we have a role to help reconcile fellow-believers

Hopefully we can help informally through prayer and encouragement

But if this doesn’t work, then church leaders are required to step in

If we ignore infection in the body, then biblical community will fail

A MEAL WITH JESUS

Every once in a while I hear or read an observation I had never noticed in the Bible that is so obvious; I wonder “How did I miss that?”

“A Meal with Jesus” by Tim Chester did this to me.

According to Tim, “Food matters. Meals matter. Meals are full of significance”.

Well, that part I already knew and give it my hearty amen!

But what I had not noticed was his observation of how frequently the gospels portray Jesus in the midst of a meal. Immediately I realized, “Wow that’s right!”

Tim adds that even when the gospels don’t portray Jesus at a meal, he is speaking about food and meals. In fact the Bible actually describes Jesus by saying, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking” (Luke 7:24).

The book focuses on the gospel of Luke in which meals and Jesus are given a prominent role.

Since we all understand the dynamics of meals, Tim Chester’s book is approachable, interesting and beneficial to any reader who wants to apply biblical truth to their lives.

With meals being so prominent in the Bible and in our human experience, “A Meal with Jesus” is an intriguing read.

As Tim Chester points out, “We need a theology of leftovers”.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.11.16

“Watch What Guides You”

 

Philippians 3:17-21

 

There is a lot of misdirection around us

The Apostle Paul was deeply concerned about these influences on believers (v18)

The “enemies of the cross” he describes are not just persecutors, it includes all who distract us us from gospel truths

We are surrounded by deception, from the subtle to the outrageous, the Bible is filled with warnings to us

 

Paul gives 4 qualities to watch out for in people (v19)

1.  When they follow what is headed for destruction

He wants us to keep in mind how things end

Yet, true Christians often ignore biblical warnings about what is condemned or empty

Any person, idea or activity that is not submitted to Christ, is condemned

Is your life engaged in what makes it harder to love God more?

 2.  When they serve their own desires

Paul uses the phrase “their god is their belly” to describe living for our appetites – it is living for ourselves

Do you prioritize what makes you happy over what makes us holy?

We miss the deep truth, that holiness leads to our greatest happiness

 3.  When they take joy in their rebellion

Those who think modern thinking is better than biblical truth – it is living by pride  

Do you heed influences that cause you to doubt the fullness of God’s authority and wisdom?

4.  When their thinking is shaped by the world

In Romans 12:1, Paul calls this being “conformed” instead of being “transformed”

You are being touched by earthly thinking, so how are you being protected from it?

 

Paul gives 3 protections against misdirection

#1  Be connected to those who are faithful to Christ (v17)

Paul is not telling the church that he is their standard (he has already made the point in chapter 2, that we are to imitate Christ)

He is encouraging us to be impacted by true Christ-followers

Only those who love Christ can lead us toward him (Parents we must be mindful of this reality)

What is the example of a Christ-follower?

They are serious about Christ’s role over us

They are faithful to apply what God’s word says

They are enthusiastic in their love for Christ and his gospel (vs 14-15)

To sum it up, we are to “imitate” those who clarify what it means to live for Christ and encourage us in it!

Each of us is an example to others. How wonderful if that example is as a Christ-follower

Even a new Christian can be an example of intensity and direction in following Christ

And an imperfect Christian can be an example of persistence in getting up and following Christ

#2  Keep in mind where we are going (v20)

We are “citizens” of a “heavenly” kingdom. Paul wants this reality to be a reminder of what to live for – or not

Our goals, success and measurements should be connected our future kingdom

This in contrast to the selfish and prideful agendas described in v19

Paul wants us to remember we are part of something glorious!

Don’t lose sight of the worthiness in living fully for Christ

Don’t settle into a life that leaves us empty handed (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

#3  Remember who is coming! (vs 20-21)

Live in the realization that Christ is coming for you!

This brings accountability to us, which is common theme in Jesus’ parables

This brings hope to us, the assurance that salvation’s entire promise will be fulfilled

Yes, we struggle, and life can be difficult

Yet, amidst all this, v21 tells us Christ ‘will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body’

This means he will also transform our life, our sorrows and our forever!